The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on March 27, 1983 · Page 5
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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 5

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 27, 1983
Page 5
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DES MOINLS SUNDAY REGISTER MARCH 27, 1983 5A Gbsch family has been showered with kindness and cruelty Continued from Page One the criticism. "My husband travels a lot for his job, so I'm the one people reach," she said. "I've been criticized for speaking out too much. "I've actually been criticized for taking the time to look good. "People would rather see me arrive in public without makeup, with my hair matted and wearing a bathrobe. People don't feel I care enough for Johnny because I don't break down and cry .... A lot of people would like to see us become emotional wrecks and babble like idiots on TV, but we have resolved to maintain our dignity. "I won't melt like a marshmallow. What good would that do Johnny?" Said John Gosch: "We get up every day trying to figure out what we can do today to get a step closer. ... There's no book that tells the parents of missing children how to react." "No. 1 Mom" - Noreen Gosch's eyes match the aqua blue jogging suit she had donned after work. She poured hot apple cider, the telephone rang every 30 minutes or so; a clock chimed in the background; Gretchen, Johnny's dachshund, lay quietly under the table that was laden with Johnny Gosch posters, newspaper clippings and the ever-present tape recorder that records every call. Around her neck, she wears a gold heart that says, "No. 1 Mom." She said it was a Mother's Day gift from Johnny last year. "We still get up in the morning expecting to see Johnny coming down the hall At first it's like a dream, then it hits us all over again," she said. "When I can't sleep at night, I walk over and sit in Johnny's room, not to be maudlin or shed buckets of tears but to remind myself what we have to do." The conversation gradually shifts around to her and her life before her marriage to John Gosch IS years ago. She grew up on a farm near Grand Mound in eastern Iowa, the oldest of six children. She was only 15 when her father died after a lingering illness. She called it the turning point in her life. "I had to buckle down and take responsibility at an early age. I dropped out of school for a while, but I did my school work at home and still maintained an A average. I started working when I was 15 and graduated from high school on time." In high school, Noreen Gosch was a cheerleader and acted in school plays. Married at 19, she worked as a secretary. Her first husband died of cancer two years later, leaving her - with a 10-month-old son, Joseph, and 2-year-old daughter, Christine. Not long after her husband's death, a tornado hit the young widow's mobile home near Grand Mound and destroyed all her belongings. She suffered broken ribs and cuts on her face from flying glass. The children were unhurt, but "all we had was what we wore on our backs." Bizarre Ramon Fly It was her earlier marriage, Noreen Gosch said, that led to a bizarre rumor that her first husband was alive and had returned to take Johnny. The Gosches produced his death certificate to show be died in 1965. Another rumor circulated saying that Johnny was adopted and used his paper route money to run away to be with his real parents. Soon after Worried about neighborhood crime? Here's a security system you can afford. KV NuTo rift's Home Security System Includes state-of-the-art security features usually found only in higher priced systems. Around the outside of your home, NuTone Security guards windows, doors and other entrances. Provides a second line of security inside your home. Built-in convenience features make NuTone Security easy to operate and easy to live with. Easy to install in new and existing homes. Designed and manufactured by NuTone, a leader in home security systems. Call or Write for Information. fVthe !T Noreen and John were married, John adopted the two oldest children. Johnny is their natural son, and they have a birth certificate from St. Luke's Hospital in Davenport to prove it The Gosches say Johnny's bank account was untouched and his wallet was found in his room the day he vanished. John and Noreen Gosch, both 39, met in the Quad-Cities and married in 1967. Noreen said John is one of 14 children "He never had anything given to him, either." Like Noreen, John also grew up on a farm, near Auburn in western Iowa. He attended barber school and served a hitch in the Marine Corps. For five years they lived in Eldridge, where Noreen babysat and sold bakery goods to earn extra cash. A job transfer took them to Minnesota; they arrived in the Des Moines area eight years ago. John is sales director for Carpenter Sales Inc., a Bondurant fertilizer company. Noreen works as a district secretary for Economics Laboratory Inc. and teaches yoga classes in West Des Moines. The Gosches cite statistics showing that 90 percent of the parents of missing children divorce because of the strain on the marriage, or end up on alcohol or drugs to ease the pain. "We have decided to come out of this stronger," John Gosch said during an interview in the front room of their modern, two-story home at 1004 Forty-fifth St. in West Des Moines. No Christmas Tree On Christmas Day last year, they painted a bedroom and washed drapes "to keep from going nuts," Noreen Gosch said. "We didn't put up a tree. The children said, 'Without Johnny we don't want Christmas.' We spent a silent day." ' It has only been in the past few 1- ftUM H0U8I1G LENDER Johnny Gosch Missing six months weeks that the family has been able to sit down together and eat at the table Johnny used to share with them. "It was too painful to see the empty chair," Noreen Gosch said. "It was the marking of six months that did it. I just decided that we had to make some type of adjustment . . . return to some type of routine. It was not good for any of us, for our health or our emotional balance." The Gosches described their last evening with Johnny, who stood 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighed 145 pounds the day he disappeared. It was a happy occasion, they remember, because daughter Chris brought a boyfriend to dinner. The Gosches cooked a roast on the outdoor 245-3131 Member FDIC An T Iff F"m7 Tm A T iiVU lUOJ TT inn TTTffnOvTTOTT TH TT A TT 1L JtlUfi raiHOM, MMil, a ! r till ii mm t 1 t i x x ol1 yMT v 1 mm iowa- . Urfr & 11 NATIONAL grill. Johnny was excited about starting junior high school, and the kids sat around talking about that, his parents recall. He talked about joining the computer club and working his way into theater productions some day. After dinner, the young people went outside to roughhouse with a football and basketball. Noreen Gosch" called them in later for a piece of homemade apple pie. Around 10:15 p.m., she said, Johnny announced: " 'I have to go to bed. I have to get the papers out in the morning.' "He came over and kissed me. I can still see his little face as he rounded the corner and yelled goodnight one more time to us. It was the last time we saw him." Outing Was Planned The family had planned a picnic and a day of water skiing and boating at Saylorville Lake that Sunday. Johnny had invited his best friend along. It was common for John Gosch to accompany his son on the Sunday paper route to help with the heavier load, but he didn't on that morning last September. One of the Gosches' recurring complaints about West Des Moines police and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation arises from the probers' insistence from the beginning that Johnny might be a runaway. John Gosch said that just a week ago, a police officer asked him if Johnny might have cashed in a life insurance policy and used the money to leave home. "Johnny didn't even know he had one," Gosch said. Noreen Gosch said her son saved money from his paper route to buy the things he wanted, such as a motor scooter and a pair of Adidas shoes to wear to school. "Johnny bought those shoes a week WETffi MD)MG fflOLEMEW iMAUTY 11 J .'v"( BANK Affiliate of Northwest Bancorporation before he disappeared. If our son would have entertained thoughts of running away, he would have taken those shoes They meant the world to him," she said. The red, white and blue Adidas shoes, along with a pair of Johnny's favorite blue jeans, a shirt and underwear, are packed in a suitcase that sits on his bed along with unopened Christmas and birthday gifts. The suitcase was packed in October so the Gosches could leave on a moment's notice should their son be found. The Gosches theorize that Johnny was abducted by two men. "It was slick and highly organized. I think they plan their abductions indicators point to that," said Noreen Gosch. "We've done our homework. We know what's going on in other parts of the country." The Gosches feel they would know intuitively if their son were dead. They have a "gut feeling," they say, that he will be found alive. So far, 82 psychics have called, written or shown up at the Gosches' door. Often, their suggestions border on the ridiculous. One urged the Gosches to obtain the names of every person who sat in the second row, section C of Sec Taylor Stadium during the entire baseball season last year because one of them had news of Johnny. There have been the false leads and, even now, there are crank calls. Recently, a youngster attempting to imitate Johnny's voice begged, "Help me, mom. Help me." The call was traced to a West Des Moines phone booth. Some callers scream, "Johnny's dead" into the phone and hang up laughing. "Why so much cruelty to our family? Why so much cruelty about a little boy who never did anything to anybody?" Noreen Gosch asked. "This is the test of a lifetime. We We don't lend money to cars or boats, we lend it to people. That's why we call our loan program people loans. Because we tailor loans that fit you. and vour individual needs. After all, everybody is different. What may be a good lending program for one person may not be ideal for you. That's why our personal banker sits down with you and privately discusses how to fit a loan to your needs, comfortably. So it's right for you. So the next time you're in the market for a new car or boat, want to invest in your IRA. get money for school or improve your home, come to us. For a people loan. They're from people like us to some very important people, like you. Ask us about your People Loan today! FIVE CONVENIENT LOCATIONS Downtown Office, 7th G Walnut Douglas Office, Beaver & Douglas Euclid Office. E. 25th & Euclid Fort Des Moines Office, 600 Army Post Road Urbandale Office, 8301 Douglas have experienced the finest and the worst of human nature. Some people have been cruel right to our face." The Gosches say that some of their friends have "come through and been true blue." But others have faded from their lives because "it's too painful for them and too uncomfortable. ... After a certain period of time, they begin to ignore you," Noreen Gosch said. "But the kindness we've had expressed to us far outweighs the cruelties." They talk proudly of the 150 volunteers who work with Help Find Johnny Gosch Inc. throughout the state to help raise money for private investigators and of the 90,000 posters with Johnny's picture on them that are circulating worldwide. Won't Give Up The Gosches have become outspoken advocates of children's rights. They often speak to groups of parents to create greater awareness of the dangers children face. They spend their time away from work on efforts to find their son they help volunteers arrange fund-raising dances and candy sales. They mail out posters and write speeches. "A lot of people say they're bored with the Johnny Gosch story. Well, I am completely sick of the circumstance, but we don't have a choice. We have to see it through to the end," Noreen Gosch said. "Some days, we'd rather not get out of bed it's too painful. But Johnny doesn't have the luxury of quitting. If his parents give up, what's left?" Counties absolved WAUKESHA, WIS. (AP) -Wisconsin counties are not liable for accidents blamed on poor visibility caused by snow that had been plowed into piles by government employees, the state Court of Appeals ruled Friday. a Lamplighter 1550 22nd, WDM Phone 225-0060

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